5 Places to Find Good Music

Track selection is everything. Whether you’re a DJ crafting a set, a choreographer trying to find the right song, or if you’re a videographer trying to find a song for the weekend recap - picking the right song can make or break your project.

I’ve spent countless hours on Soundcloud, Youtube, and Spotify trying to find good songs. I’ve learned that the best way to find good music isn’t by looking in just one place, but rather having a variety of sources to browse and choose from.

If I can’t find something I like within 10 minutes on Soundcloud, I’ll jump over to Youtube. If I don’t find something on Youtube, I’ll try Spotify. Eventually, I end up finding something I like.

Below is a list of 5 places that I use to source good music for a variety of uses:

  1. Spotify - Create your own playlists, follow your friends who have good taste in music, or browse the Discover Weekly playlist to find new music.

  2. Soundcloud - I used Soundcloud to find unknown/more underground artists and tracks. They also have playlists with new music as well.

  3. Youtube - You can really get lost in Youtube and find amazing old and new music. Artists are always uploading their latest music video. This is my favorite resource for to find music.

  4. Radio - I listen to 89.3 KCRW while driving in Los Angeles. They always play eclectic sets late at night or in early mornings. I always find a lot of electronic, down tempo, future bass, and r&b tracks here.

  5. Stores - Forever 21, Starbucks, Zara - they are always playing high energy music that I’m not used to hearing.

Aside from the 5 places mentioned above, your friends and family are also a great resource. Hanging out with people that have completely different taste than you gives you a different perspective. Even if I hear something that I’m not sure if I like, I’ll shazam it, and give it a listen later on. Sometimes that track comes in handy weeks, months, or even years down the road.

Traveling is also another way to find amazing music. For example, when I was in The Netherlands, I listened to the local radio and shazam’d almost every song.

Aside from finding good music, it’s also helpful to know how to access or find the music once it’s on your computer. There were countless times where I had in my head but I couldn’t remember the name and where to find it. Having folders and playlists that you regularly access will prevent you from not being able locate a specific song in the future.

If you’d like to get an idea of the eclectic songs we use for our videos, check out our recaps or dance videos.

Interview: Samy El Magico

Every so often you come across an artist that is in a world of their own.  Born and raised in France, Samy El Magico has traveled the world for the past 8 years teaching Dominican Bachata.  His unique style and flavor was born from the streets of the Dominican Republic. We met up with Samy in Los Angeles to learn more about his background.

Tell me about when you were first introduced to bachata.

When I was 21 years old, I went vacation in the Dominican Republic with a friend.  I went there for a month and stayed in a non-touristy location. My friend was a musician and we spent a lot of time in his studio listening to music.  We’d listen to bachata, merengue, bolero, all different kinds of music, and I learned for the first time, how to listen to music.

In the DR, everyone is drinking, dancing, and having fun.  One time I went to a party and everyone was dancing, I didn’t know how to dance.  My friend’s sister asked me to dance, but I didn’t know any moves. I danced with her a little,  and that’s how I started. 

When I went back to France, I wanted to check out a bachata party.  When I went, it was so different, it was amazing. I tried dancing with some girls but they looked at me and said you’re not dancing bachata.  I saw many people dancing bachata with a lot of turns. I was really confused. I had just gotten back from the DR, where bachata was born, and here in Paris people were dancing totally different.  

So I didn’t dance for two months, then my friend came back to France and told me to go to a party with him.  I met a lot of Dominicans who said that in France bachata is different and had changed. I ended up going back to the DR to learn more about bachata.

So you went back to the DR, what happened then?

No one was really teaching bachata.  People would go to parties and there would be demonstrations or shows, but no classes.  I learned bachata dancing on the streets with lots of people or watching other people dance.  

When did you start teaching bachata?

I started teaching three years after I started dancing.   For me, it was really important to learn how to teach. You can be a really good dancer, but teaching is very different.  I went to school to learn how to teach, how to communicate with people, and different things, not just dance.

What’s been a big challenge in your career?

The biggest challenge I’ve had is traveling to different countries with different connections, different cultures, and trying to share your passion.  Sometimes people react different and you have to adapt to the people.

It’s also difficult traveling from France to LA with a 9 hour difference and immediately start teaching in English.  When I started, I only spoke French. I learned Spanish and English over the years.  

What’s been rewarding in your career?

To meet people, explore new cultures and countries.  I love being in different situations, you learn a lot.

You’re Tunesian right?  Tell me more about your background.

I was born in France, but my family is Tunesian.  In Tunesia you have different cultures too, it’s amazing.  I was in Tunesia recently, and people sent me messages from Tunesia thinking I’m not Tunesian.  They’re like “Samy, I really love your dance, and I want you to come to my festival.” There are many communities in Tunesia and the scene is strong.  Everyone thought I was latino at first, but now everyone knows I have origins from Tunesia. I’m like a personality there and I have my own festival there now.  It’s amazing.  

Do you speak Arabic?

 I speak Tunesian and I speak Arabic.  

What’s the difference between Tunesian and Arabic?

Everyone in Tunesia speaks Tunesian.  The first language is Arabic. I learned Arabic and Tunesian growing up.  But when I’m in Lebanon or Egypt, I can speak Arabic and communicate.  

Who inspires you?

My family, especially my mom and dad.  They inspire me to do good things. I also believe in my gut. 

What are some plans for 2020?

At 21 I opened my first restaurant/club. Now I have two restaurants, one club, event company and dance school.  I run 5 festivals all over the world. I want to continue teaching, investing, and creating. 

Is there anything else you want to add or we should know about you?

What I learned with this lifestyle is that time moves very fast.  If I have a festival two years from now and every weekend I have a festival, it comes quick.  I learned that tomorrow you don’t know where you’re going to be or what you’re going to do. For me it’s more important to share life with good people, friends, and family.  Money is nothing now. You can have money today and tomorrow it’s different. Share more and be with people you love and help people.

Thank you Samy, hope to catch up with you again soon.

Thank you.

— SBKZ Media filmed one of Samy’s festival in Troyes, France - Bachata French Kiss

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Spotlight: Warsaw Zouk Festival

Everyone attends festivals for different reasons.  Some dancers go for workshops, some for the shows, some partake in the Jack & Jills, and others attend to only social dance.  After having filmed and attended many Brazilian Zouk festivals, congresses, weekenders, and events, we feel the Warsaw Zouk Festival is one of the best festivals in the Brazilian Zouk dance scene because of the following reasons:

  1. Affordability:  Warsaw is located in Eastern Europe and is relatively cheap.  Transportation, hotel, and food are all affordable. The only real cost is your flight depending on where you’re flying in from.  Everything is also conveniently located in one location very close to the airport. 

  2. Social Dancing: This is what separates this festival from the rest.  There is plenty of time to social dance during the day and at night.  They have two spacious rooms with very good sound systems.  Feel like taking a nap or just people watching? The smaller “chill” room has tons of bean bags and couches for you to take a break and sprawl out on.  Water is always abundant as they have a water refill station along with a full bar that is available throughout the weekend. The floor is great and they have AC throughout the ballrooms.  Convenience is key, and being able to social dance and take breaks at the same time is golden.

    At many festivals, the party doesn’t start until 11 PM, then you have shows around 1 which kind of kills the social dancing vibe.  Things don’t resume until 2 or 3 and you’re left with 2-3 hours of quality social dancing. In Warsaw the shows are kept to a minimum.

    At Warsaw, you have about 7 hours for the day social, and for the evening, about 5 hours of uninterrupted dancing.  The freedom of having the option to dance whenever you please is really amazing and left a lasting impression (which is one of the reasons we’re writing this blog post). Also, the cloakroom is free!  No need to carry around loose change to check in your coat every time you want to dance.

  3. It’s about you: The festival isn’t marketed so much around hyping up the artists.  Rather, it’s about providing a good atmosphere where dancers can interact and enjoy social dancing.  The overall vibe of the weekend felt like a big group of friends rather than a typical festival where everyone is trying to dance and take photos with artists.  Some teachers come to the festival just to dance and have fun.  They don’t have the underlying stress of having to teach workshops or perform.  This is one example of how high the level of dancing is at this festival.

  4. Level of dancing:  The level of dancing is high.  Many dancers are experienced and open-minded.  Even beginners had a good foundation of lateral and were open to learning and following in a way that didn’t feel strained. 

Of course, no festival is perfect.  There are some downsides or things that could use improvement.  One obvious downside is the weather. Coming from California, Warsaw is brutally cold.  I did not want to leave the hotel. The music was great and I heard some amazing sets from a few DJs.  However, the majority of DJs sounded the same and played similar tracks with the same style. I’d be nice to see more international DJs that can bring some flavor and really set the tone.

To summarize, this festival has the capacity to be the biggest in the world.   The setting is perfect and think it’s just a matter of time before dancers realize the full potential of what this festival has to offer.  Dancers are getting burnt out of expensive festivals that only offer a limited amount of social dancing. Jack and Jills are great but also take up a lot of time which limits social dancing.  

Brazilian Zouk has come a long way over the past 5 years.  It’s good to see that this festival is focusing on the most important aspect of any partner dance - social dancing.

If you enjoyed this blog post, give it a share and let others know.

East Meets West 2019

Benny and Brandon Ayala are international salsa instructors. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, they have raised the bar on the West Coast. They’re energetic, driven, humble, and extremely hard-working and talented individuals. Every time we film them during a workshop they are dripping in sweat and always smiling.

Every year in September, they host the East Meets West Salsa Bachata Festival, inviting artists from both sides of the US, to come together and experience a festival with a family atmosphere. The festival has the usual program - workshops, shows, social dancing. However, Sunday is more of a relaxed day where one can do non-dance activities - ie: BBQ and play games.

2020 will mark the 4th year of this festival. Don’t miss out!

Where to Dance Bachata in Phoenix, Arizona

The dance scene in Phoenix, Arizona is strong and vibrant. Whether you are living in Phoenix, or visiting for the weekend, there’s always something to do depending on what you’re looking for.

Bachata Addiction is managed by Brandon Odom, Sky Sackrider, and assisted by Shelby Orlowski. Bachata Addiction strives to foster healthy dance environments with a good production (sound, DJs, stage, instructors). In order to grow a community organically, many things need to happen simultaneously. Bachata Addiction is always bringing in guest instructors to teach and grow the local scene. Bachata Addiction has been around for years and will continue to lead the local scene in Phoenix going into 2020.

Bachata Addiction also hosts one of the best festivals on the West Coast - the Phoenix Bachata Festival. This year was their second year hosting the festival which included live performances from Joan Soriano, Dani J, Kewin Cosmos, and Xtreme. There were two rooms (one bachata/salsa the other kizomba/zouk) that catered to all dance genres.

Whether it’s your first time dancing, or you’re a veteran dancer, there is something for everyone at this festival. Check out what went down in 2019: